Week 5 gets underway with a matchup that could go a long way in determining which teams make the playoffs in the AFC. The Indianapolis Colts will head west to Denver to take on the Broncos. Both teams are looking to bounce back after falling to division foes in Week 4. Indianapolis lost to the Tennessee Titans at home by a final score of 24-17, while Denver was beaten by the Las Vegas Raiders 32-23.
Here are a few items to keep in mind during the Thursday night tilt.
Jonathan Taylor’s Health
Adding injury to insult during a losing effort on Sunday, Indianapolis star running back Jonathan Taylor left the game late with an ankle injury. With each passing day, it seems like the sentiment surrounding the ailment trends more positively, which is a great sign for the Colts. However, due to the short turnaround this week, Taylor’s status is still highly questionable for their next game.
Somewhat improbably, it seems like Taylor has a chance to suit up against Denver, but it will be interesting to see whether he has his traditional explosiveness if he does play. Whether the dominant running back is in the lineup or not, the Colts will likely have to shift their offensive philosophy a little bit. Reserve running back Nyheim Hines stands to get the start or see more action on Thursday, which may result in more screen passes that highlight his pass catching skill set.
Is Russ Starting To Cook?
The returns on Denver’s big trade for veteran quarterback Russell Wilson have been mixed in the early part of the season. However, Broncos fans have to be encouraged by the team’s offensive performance on Sunday against Las Vegas, where glimpses of the vintage Wilson were present.
Signs of life included a touchdown pass from Wilson to wide receiver Courtland Sutton, where both players continued to move to keep the play alive. The seasoned signal caller also got Jerry Jeudy involved, finding him for another touchdown pass, while converting another long pass to K.J. Hamler. Questions surrounding Wilson’s demise have quieted down for a few days, and will be muted if he can lead his team to a victory at home on Thursday.
Denver’s Backfield Moving Forward
The Broncos experienced a running back injury of their own on Sunday that they will have to compensate for as the rest of their season plays out. Talented second year player Javonte Williams went down with a torn ACL, and he will not return for the rest of the campaign. It is a difficult blow for the team, as they were looking for Williams to take a giant leap forward in his sophomore season in the NFL.
It will be intriguing to monitor how head coach Nathanial Hackett uses his backfield on Thursday and in the games to follow. The team re-signed Melvin Gordon this offseason, who still had a role even when Williams was healthy. Mike Boone also received carries in relief on Sunday, and the Broncos brought Latavius Murray in this week as well. Gordon figures to be the leader of that group, but don’t be surprised if Murray cuts into that workload.